Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Shepherdess and the Ghost

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom plagued by a menacing poltergeist. No one was certain if the ghost was that of a long dead monarch, an aggrieved peasant, or a tragically murdered executioner, but the one thing the kingdom was sure of was that this ghost was trying to kill the king.

First, the ghost started with small threats. A skate on the palace stairs was followed by a light shove into the moat. It seemed more funny to the castle's occupants than anything. But then the actions got worse. There came a falling chandelier, a broken suit of armor that just happened to let fall its sword as His Majesty passed, and an arrow flying toward the king's heart in the middle of breakfast. But the king remained unconcerned until one night he was awoken by the sound of his first-born child's cradle cracking apart, split asunder as if struck by lightening.

“A threat to my person, is cause for concern,” the king told his people. “But a threat to the princess is something we must take action on. I offer a cart full of treasure to who ever can banish this ghost from my land!

Most people in the kingdom weren't too keen to take on a homicidal ghost, but an entire cart full of treasure wasn't something to be ignored and many came forward to defend the princess.

There came priests and wizards and knights. Demon-tamers, vampire slayers, and exorcists. But though they were all brave and mostly competent, they made no progress in ridding the palace of its unwanted occupant. On the morning the last of the specialists left, the ghost threw a tapestry into a fire and nearly burned the audience chamber down.

The king was strongly considering move to another palace when a shy young shepherdess approached him in his garden and announced that she had a plan. He wasn't optimistic about her chances, but with all the sane options failed, surely whatever she wanted to do was worth a shot.

First she ordered the king to bring her fine clothes, then bade his servants to bathe her and arrange her hair like that of a noble lady.

That evening, the king held a grand dinner where he introduced her to court as a princess from a neighboring land.

After everyone else has gone to bed, the shepherdess grabbed a lantern and stole through the corridors softly singing a melody her sheep were particularly fond of. As she walked, she became aware of a cool presence trailing after her, and she smiled to herself.

Certain she had the ghost's attention, she led him out onto the walls and stood looking down at the fields and forests bellow. Gently, she started to talk about her life with her sheep, about how sweetly the grass whispers through a meadow, about how beautifully a brook can sing, and about the great wonders to be found outside the palace.

And finally, she spoke of how she yearned for someone other than sheep to share her life with.

Hearing this, the ghost placed his hand on her shoulder and though she could not see him, the shepherdess could feel the love he felt for her.

In the morning, the shepherdess was able to assure the king that the ghost would bother him no more. She took her cart full of treasure and bought a cabin on the edge of a forest meadow with a brook cutting just feet from the back door. And there she stayed with her sheep and her ghost, and everyone was very happy.

I created the prompt for this project by randomly selecting cards from my Once Upon A Time game deck. Cards drawn were Sheperdess, Treasure, Ghost, Clothes, Heart, and Sleeping. The end condition was "The king fulfilled his side of the bargain and everyone was happy."

1 comment:

  1. Good story. I like the imagery in the meadow and a happy ending is always nice.

    100 words per prompt seems so much more reasonable than 20.


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